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How to Attract Millennials to Your Startup Brand

Rob Bierderman/ TNJ | 6/15/2016, 11:45 a.m.
It used to be that decent pay, a flashy car and a suite of benefits were the simple ingredients needed ...

It used to be that decent pay, a flashy car and a suite of benefits were the simple ingredients needed to create and sustain employee happiness. But if you asked a millennial today if a corner office at work and a gas guzzler at home would make him or her feel fulfilled, how do you think they'd answer?

As CEO of HourlyNerd, a SaaS company using data and technology to deliver consulting talent, every day I see that the new generation of workers wants more to their careers than the familiar symbols of success and happiness. They want a career and a life that works toward the greater good of humanity or fulfills a deeper, personal mission. Just as a corner office doesn't equate to success for millennials, big corporations pumping out products and raking in profits doesn't create trust. Outside of the workplace, millennials want to spend their dollars in a socially responsible way that benefits the world.

Today's generation differs materially from its predecessors; more idealistic than the corporate-centric culture of the 1950s, but more socially-conscious and altruistic than the "me-focused" generations that followed. The old American dream -- getting married, buying a home and starting a family -- is giving way to a new path, where millennials are looking to supplement those milestones by driving deeper meaning from their impact on the world as producers and as consumers.

This shift in how millennials engage and participate with the world (and the brands) around them exists because altruism and business are not mutually exclusive in their eyes.

Professional impact

Thirty percent of millennials polled in a study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said that having a meaningful job was most important to them (whereas only 12 percent of their supervisors found meaningful jobs to be important). It's possible that coming of professional age in tough economic times pushed millennials to look past the clear and obvious benefits of a job (pay) and search for a larger goal to achieve. As a business owner, there are many things that you can do to appeal to this need. Encourage a team-wide volunteer day where employees donate a workday of their time to a local charity. This gets them out of the office, facilitates team bonding and develops people's professional relationships.

Personal impact

The altruistic mindset plays out beyond their professional lives as well. Millennials care about socially conscious corporations and sustainability. Chegg is a company that incorporates this well into their business model. They're a textbook renting service for college students who don't want to overpay ridiculous textbook prices. Their model gives each student the opportunity to plant a tree in designated locations with every book they rent. Five books equals five planted trees, plus the feeling of making a personal impact on the world.

Millennials will only put their trust in a brand when they know how their food, clothing and other products were made; never mind if it arrived at the doorstep via Amazon Prime. That same desire for trustworthy brands directly affects how millennials view businesses and corporations today.